Updated 09 September 2015

It's never too early to start looking after your child's teeth

It's National Oral Health Month this September. Here's how to protect your tot's pearly whites.


September is National Oral Health Month and, in an effort to raise awareness over tooth decay (also called dental caries), Intercare Dental has bitten down hard on the rollout of a dental campaign to not only get parents excited about establishing good brushing habits, but their kids too. 

"Good dental care begins before a baby's first tooth appears. Just because you can't see the teeth doesn't mean they aren't there," says Professor Johan Hartshorne, Dental Surgeon at Intercare Dental Centre of Excellence. "Some parents believe it's not important to look after baby teeth as they will eventually fall out but oral hygiene is imperative from the moment the first tooth makes its rewarding debut."

Johan explains oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, most commonly dental cavities, gingivitis and bad breath. Your child's mouth can be kept clean and healthy by brushing and flossing twice a day and by seeing a dentist every six months. 

"Your baby's gums are the 'lifeline' for their teeth so gum health is just as important as caring for the actual tooth itself," says Johan. "Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur.

A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about six months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months. For children younger than three years, caregivers should begin brushing children’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice.

For children three to six years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night). When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste."

Parents across South Africa trust Intercare Dental centres to take care of the health of their children's teeth. Intercare Dental centres feature fully fledged dental departments staffed by experienced dentists and oral hygienists qualified to provide a full range of dental services ranging from routine dental care to specialised dental services and oral hygiene.

Myth busting tips!

Brushing more than three times a day is not recommended because too much brushing can wear down tooth enamel and damage your gums.

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take a lot of force to remove plaque - you're dealing with very fine film of bacteria, not a Great White Shark. 

Toothpastes with whitening particles can be more harmful than good. They are known to sand away tooth structure.

Despite what you may have been told, even diet sodas have acid that can soften tooth enamel.

Read more:

What your saliva says about your health
What do we mean by dental health?
Fluoride may prevent white marks from braces